How to use the internet effectively for your business

There are many ways that your business could benefit from the internet. For starters, you could build your network by connecting with the communication channels of your customers or potential customers. This could help you increase your business exponentially by acquiring new customers and retaining old ones.
Here are some ways that you can use the internet effectively for your business:
  1. Utilize the power of local listing services – Having your business listed online makes your business easily visible to potential customers. The service is free and only takes a few minutes to set-up. Among the three top local listing services available online are;
    1. Google Places (they allow your business to be seen easily when searched on Google, likewise they will also be pinned onto Google Maps)
    2. Yahoo! Local
    3. And Microsoft’s Bing
  2. Make your presence felt in social media – Social media is not just a place to make friends and gain likes and shares. It is also an effective way to promote your products, your services, or your enterprise as a whole. You can tie in all of your social media platforms to your Facebook account as a free promotion for your business. Facebook also has a section called “Marketplace” where you could promote your business in a local level or within a certain province.
  3. Start a blog – Blogging is one of the best ways to get your company name out to followers. It’s an effective way to get to customers directly. If you have a penchant for writing, frequently updating your blog keeps your followers up to date on what’s new with your business or your services.
  4. Put up pictures and videos on YouTube, Instagram, and Flickr – Creating promotional videos, especially the kind that has content that can spark interest to potential customers of your business, is a surefire way to promote on the internet. Likewise, having a certain number of subscribers, likes, and shares could also equal to monetary returns on your part. Creating a Flickr or Instagram profile can provide you with a place to showcase all photos of your products, service, or your business. They also allow you to link up to your own company website.
  5. SEO your website – In the world of Google searching, Search Engine Optimization cannot be underestimated. You can learn through the various online “how-to” guides the most effective ways to prime up your website’s performance on online search engines.
  6. Shoot off some press releases – Whenever there are some new advancements to your business or just anything that is newsworthy. Putting out a press release. This is a powerful media tool to generate publicity and free distribution. You can choose among many websites to put out your online press releases (e.g. PRLog, 24/7 Press Release, etc).
  7. Contribute to online communities that has an impact on your business – Join online forums, actively contribute and build rapport with the community, but not actively promoting your business. You can passively promote your business by placing a link on your signature or mentioning it when the topic or context of the conversation is related to your business.
As a start-up company there are also many ways that you can utilize the power of the internet to your advantage:
  1. Financing - Crowdfunding is one way of funding your start-up aside from traditional funding methods. Instead of getting large sums of money from big investors, you raise funds by getting small sums from a large number of small investors. The kind of crowdfunding program you want for your campaign depends on the type of crowdfunding you want to use. There are three types of crowdfunding:
    1. Donation based – This type of crowdfunding provides rewards to individual investors based on a tier-level system. Rewards can come in the form of products that can be produced by your company once it has been properly funded, or your investors can be acknowledge on a simple online donor page.
    2. Equity based – With this kind of crowdfunding, each individual investor of your company gets an equity or an equal value of shares from your company’s profits and/or assets.
    3. Debt based - This type of campaign offers your investors a return of their investment with interest from future profits of your company.
Certain tax implications must be considered when you wish to raise funds through crowdfunding. There are instance where the money you raised from crowdfunding is considered as income for your company, but in some cases they are also considered as a non-taxable gift. Depending on where your business is located, Sales Tax may also be issued upon your business. It would be advisable to consult a tax expert who could give you the best advise on how these tax issues might affect your business.
  1. Mobile Payment Processing System – For a business that is just starting out, getting a credit card processing service from a partner bank can be both challenging and expensive. Aside from the traditional bank services, there are several payment processing services that are currently being offered online that utilizes mobile devices. These services can provide a substantial initial savings for starting companies. Among the mobile payment processing services currently available, Square is probably the best known among the rest. But it is advisable to research as to what payment processing service you want to use for your company as each service has different features and fees.
  1. Web-based Point of Sales System – If your business is involved in retail sales you would need to invest on a Point of Sales (POS) system for easier customer checkout and for inventory management purposes. A traditional POS system is usually very expensive to install and would require constant IT software/hardware maintenance. Since web-based POS systems are cloud-based it would be cheaper to install and would require less (or none at all) IT maintenance.
Aside from the lowered cost of installation and the lessened IT burden, there are additional features that are offered for the different systems that are available. Some systems offer mobile checkout solutions that would be beneficial if you want to conduct off-site location sales. You would also want to look into  e-commerce modules that could offer your customers online shopping and social media integration so that you could enhance your online engagement with your customers.
  1. Company Website – Whatever business that you would want to get into, it would be very beneficial to have your own company website. Having an active online presence creates opportunities for you to get easily connected to consumers online.
In starting your own website make sure that you purchase you own web domain name from any name registration company. Creating your own website is something that you don’t have to do on your own, just get the services of any web developer or any freelance web designer. They could help you create the best web design that could fit your personal style and they image that you would want to project for your company.